If you’ve been to Frick Park’s Clayton Hill lately you’ve seen a plant blanketing the open area down east of Clayton Hill Loop. Invasive mile-a-minute (Persicaria perfoliata) was thick on the ground and climbing every upright when I took these photos in July.
Even if I wanted to walk through this area I wouldn’t. The plant has thorns.
Invasive plants are discouraging but I have hope they’ll be gone some day. The Allegheny Bird Conservation Alliance (ABCA) is conducting a multi-year project to remove invasive plants from Frick Park.
The restoration area is shown on the ABCA map below.
What’s hard for us to do by hand is easy for Allegheny Goatscape’s goats. They eat anything. Here’s how it works.
Prior to bringing the goats, Allegheny GoatScape clears a fence line and sets up the fencing and a shelter for the animals. The herd arrives at the site and immediately goes to work eating the vegetation. … Once the goats eat through the vegetation on site, they are transported to their next [assignment] location.
I haven’t seen goats at Frick but the fenced area at Clayton East looks like goats have been inside it. There’s a lot less mile-a-minute inside the fence.
Now that the goat project is underway ABCA wants to know how the birds respond and is asking birders to count birds in the four restoration zones per hotspot in eBird. Observations are especially needed during August and September fall migration.
Last week in Schenley Park I stopped by the Westinghouse Fountain to see swamp milkweed and a photogenic bumblebee.
My cellphone camera was able to capture it in flight!
As I left the fountain a doe crossed W Circuit Road and walked between parked cars to the woods beyond. A fawn soon followed but jumped back in fear before the cars and stopped in the road. Fortunately there was no traffic. It was joined by a second fawn.
The two approached me (I missed that shot) then turned away …
… and were joined by a second doe.
Eventually they all walked between parked cars and caught up with the first doe.
Schenley Park’s numerous deer aren’t afraid of people but they learn to fear cars at a very young age.
p.s. My cellphone can take nice closeups of bumblebees but fails on deer at a distance.
Last week in the city parks I saw a single fruit and signs of fungus.
In Frick I was surprised to find a pawpaw fruit. I don’t usually see any because the grove of pawpaw trees in Schenley is a clonal clump that rarely produces fruit. This lonely pawpaw will ripen in September.
In Schenley Park tar spot fungus (Rhytisma sp.) is forming on Norway maple leaves as it does every summer. In July the spots are yellowish. By fall they’ll turn black like spots of tar.
Though the fungus can infect other maple species, it only touches Norway maples in Schenley. Norway maples are invasive so I don’t feel so bad.
(photos by Kate St. John and one from Wikimedia Commons; click on its caption to see the original)
This week brought lavender flowers, green fruit and an overabundance of frogs.
I found American bellflower (Campanula americana) blooming along the Duck Hollow trail with some plants reaching six feet tall. My close-up, above, shows how the pistils avoid being fertilized by their own pollen.
Wild bergamot (Monarda fistulosa) always has a bad hair day. At Schenley Park a long-legged insect stopped by for a sip (top right of flower).
In July the unripe fruits of white fringetree (Chionanthus virginicus) are green. This fall they’ll turn dark blue.
At Panther Hollow Lake, which is actually the size of a pond, pickerelweed (Pontederia cordata) is blooming …
… and there’s a serious overabundance of bullfrogs. Here are just a few examples.
Herons don’t nest at Schenley Park but may visit for some easy prey. Where’s a great blue heron when you need one?
This week I found two bottlebrushes in Schenley Park.
Eastern bottlebrush grass (Elymus hystrix) is a native perennial bunchgrass that grows in partial shade, often at the edge of forests. This one was exactly where we should expect it, glowing in the sun by the Bridle Trail.
Meanwhile the bottlebrush buckeyes (Aesculus parviflora) by Panther Hollow Lake showed off in a last hurrah. They were spectacular from a distance on 9 July but up close the lowest flowers on each spike were faded and brown. Their show is about to end.
There was plenty to see this week in Schenley Park even though the weather was hot.
My best visit was on Thursday morning when my friend Andrea convinced me to come out at 7:30a. I’ve been missing a lot by sitting at my computer until 9am. Best Bird: Louisiana waterthrush! Waterthrushes don’t breed in the park but they stop by in transit before and after breeding.
Best flowers this week include the bright yellow flower (above) near the Westinghouse fountain, a cultivated variety of St. Johnswort (Hypericum).
Teasel (Dipsacus), an invasive alien, has not bloomed yet but the flower buds are visible between the spikes.
Spotted joe pye weed (Eupatorium maculatum), above, has buds in the leaf axils but when it blooms the showy flowers at the top attract all our attention. This year I’ll have to watch for the side flowers as well.
Enchanters nightshade (Circaea canadensis), below, blooms from the bottom up and has plenty of buds yet to open. The lower buds in the photo are on a different branch.
Bugs are quite evident now but they are difficult to photograph because they move(!). Below, this silver-spotted skipper (Epargyreus clarus) appeared to be rubbing its abdomen on the bird dropping. Was it ovipositing?
Aphids are not plentiful this year — yet — but it’s only a matter of time. There’s only one winged adult in this photo but the juveniles will grow up, sprout wings, and fly to other Helianthus plants to reproduce. It won’t be long before I think there are too many.
And finally, some bugs are never seen but we know they were there … as this leaf attests.